The news media have a well-known bad-news bias.  If something bad is happening or – better yet – threatening to happen, the headlines scream of impending disaster.
Good news, not so much coverage.
If something good happens, including averted potential disasters, ho-hum.  There is much less coverage and it’s much less prominent.
Such was the case of the threatened railroad strike last week.
For two years, six of the largest freight carriers and twelve unions representing 115,000 railroad workers had negotiated unsuccessfully.  In July, President Biden appointed an emergency board in July which recommended wage increases but did not address
Continue Reading Mediators Help Save the Economy

As you may know, Noam Ebner and I have been co-editing a book on Star Wars and conflict resolution, soon to be published by DRI Press! This past summer, we have had a couple of opportunities to present some of the ideas from this project at academic and professional conferences — and then this fall, we waded into the nerdy, fun waters of the Comic Con.
Over Labor Day weekend, we presented virtually at Dragon Con. Dragon Con is based in Atlanta and is one of the largest Cons in the world. Our panel, “Conflict Experts Fight About Star Wars,”
Continue Reading ADR at Comic Cons

Heidi and Guy Burgess have long focused on how society – and our field – can deal with intractable conflicts.  They publish a newsletter, Beyond Intractability, that includes lots of thoughtful articles about this.
The latest issue features an article they co-authored with Sanda Kaufman, Applying Conflict Resolution Insights to the Hyper-Polarized, Society-Wide Conflicts Threatening Liberal Democracies, published in Conflict Resolution Quarterly.  Here’s an excerpt describing the central issues they see:
Our Executive Summary of the article that frames the hyper-polarization discussion starts by asserting that political hyper-polarization and the resulting political stalemate is the number one problem facing the
Continue Reading How Can We Reduce Hyper-Polarization?

From Michael Lang and Susan Terry:
We are excited to announce that The Reflective Practice Institute is offering two new year-long programs with limited enrollments.
The first one, beginning in October 2022, is a core certificate program for people who want to organize and lead reflective practice groups (RPGs).  We have piloted the course this past year with an initial group.  We are now offering the course for open enrollment.
The second program is an advanced certificate in RPG leadership, and it will start in October 2023.  Completion of the core program is a prerequisite for the advanced program.
Continue Reading Reflective Practice Institute Courses

Kris Franklin and Peter Phillips of New York Law School just wrote an excellent article that people who care about teaching dispute resolution in law schools should read:  Pass the Salt: Problem Resolution Lawyering Across the 21st Century Law Curriculum.
Here’s the abstract:
Attorneys work with clients to resolve problems.
Legal education can help prepare law graduates to do that work.  As an added bonus, doing so would in turn help law students understand and retain the subjects they study.
Law professors who teach alternative dispute resolution, lawyering skills, clinics, and sometimes traditional doctrinal courses, have all called for
Continue Reading Problem Resolution Lawyering Across the 21st Century Law Curriculum

I appreciate John’s perspective that it is a shame that the criminal case against Allen H. Weisselberg plead out and did not go to trial due to the serious public interest in the case.  My concerns are focused not so much on the fact that the case settled, which I view as inevitable given the reality of plea bargaining in our criminal legal system.  My concern is, instead, about how it settled compared to other criminal cases.
First, what was typical about this plea negotiation process?  The fact that the judge got involved is typical in state courts (but prohibited
Continue Reading Inside a High-Profile Plea Bargain Negotiation: Part II

The New York Times published a fascinating account of the plea bargaining of Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization CFO.  This was unusual because details of plea bargaining processes usually are kept private.  This process included the very active participation of the trial judge, who made suggestions and offered to keep Mr. Weisselberg’s sentence relatively short if he settled – and threatened to order him into custody immediately if found guilty at trial.
The Hill newspaper noted that the plea bargain was an “oddity” – just a “plea deal,” not a “cooperation deal.”  So Mr. Weisselberg is not obligated to
Continue Reading Inside a High-Profile Plea Bargaining: Part I

There’s a lot to report this year.  Among a slew of high-profile moves and new people in our community, we’re already seeing ADR among the hiring advertisements of several schools.  With all of the hubbub I’m sure I’ve missed some items worth mentioning (more new hires?).  If you have some info to share, please send it along and I will post an updated list.
Congrats to everyone !
New Hires
Gilat Bachar – Temple
Rachel Wechsler – Missouri
Robyn Weinstein – Cardozo (Yeshiva)
Hiro Aragaki – Loyola (LA) to UC Hastings
Amy Cohen – Ohio State to Temple (reported
Continue Reading Comings and Goings – 2022 Edition

Yesterday U.S. District Judge Gina M. Groh rejected a plea deal for a Maryland couple accused of trying to sell secrets about nuclear propulsion systems on US Submarines to foreign countries.  The judge rejected the deal saying they were not “in the best interest of this community, or, in fact, this country.” The judge went on to say that, “There are lower-level drug dealers that go to prison for way longer than 36 months.”
Johnathan Toebbe accepted a plea deal where he could be sentenced to between 12 and 18 years in prison. His wife, Diana Toebbe, accepted a deal
Continue Reading Judge Rejects Plea Deal

The Association for Conflict Resolution of Greater New York and the City University of New York Dispute Resolution Center at John Jay College will host a Virtual Roundtable Breakfast entitled, “ADR As a First Career: It Is Possible!” featuring Alyson Carrel.  She is clinical professor at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law and co-director of its  Center on Negotiation and Mediation.
The program will take place on Zoom on Thursday, September 1 at 5 am Pacific / 6 am Mountain / 7 am Central / 8 am Eastern Time.  The first half hour is for networking, and the program begins promptly
Continue Reading Alyson Carrel Program on Sept 1:  ADR As A First Career: It Is Possible!

Passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes $392 billion of federal investments in energy and climate policies, reflects a complex political evolution over recent decades, as described in this Washington Post article.

Multiple Political Changes

The bill was adopted on a purely party-line vote, with all Democrats voting in favor and all Republicans opposed.

There used to be bipartisan support for environmental policies.  President Richard Nixon signed the bill creating the Environmental Protection Agency.  President George H.W. Bush “signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and created the U.S. Global Change Research Program.”  Senator and presidential
Continue Reading Inflation Reduction Act: A long, hard road to “Yes”

The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law’s Divided Community Project (DCP) in collaboration with OSU’s Mershon Center for International Security Studies released the second edition of a dispute systems design-centered guide for communities advancing racial equity initiatives.
Titled A Practical Guide to Planning Collaborative Initiatives to Advance Racial Equity (2nd ed. 2022) (available at, this second edition features learning from US-based multi-pronged and sequenced processes created to advance race equity in this country. Whether they are called truth, transformation and healing commissions or something else, these processes are designed to facilitate collaborative problem-solving over a period of
Continue Reading OSU’s DCP Releases Second Guide to Advance Race Equity Initiatives

After several attempts over many years, on 10 May 2022 the Nigerian Parliament passed a new Commercial Arbitration and Mediation Bill (H.B. 91).  The Bill is currently awaiting signature of the President, at which time it will become law.  If enacted, it is set to replace Nigeria’s Arbitration and Conciliation Act, originally enacted in 1988.
The Bill has many innovative sections dealing with cutting-edge arbitration issues such as electronic communication, emergency arbitrators, third-party funding, and consolidation/joinder.  On the mediation side, the Bill is a vast improvement over the earlier A&C Act in that it replaces the term “conciliation” with “mediation”
Continue Reading The New Nigerian Bill on Arbitration & Mediation: Lessons for the Singapore Convention?

When I was in Croatia earlier this summer, I took a tour of the beautiful small island of Hvar off the coast of Split. Part of the tour included a stop at the Hvar Public Theater right at the port. When we walked by, I noticed a Latin inscription at the entrance, ANNO SECVNDO PACIS MDCXII.  I asked my tour guide for more details, as I recognized the word “Pacis”. She told me it translates to “the second year of our peace 1612.” As an ADR teacher, of course I asked for more details.
As I learned, the theater was
Continue Reading Early Integrative Bargaining in Croatia circa 1612

Mediation theory generally focuses on models of mediation procedures.  While prescribed procedures obviously can be important factors affecting mediators’ behavior, traditional mediation theories are major oversimplifications that often don’t reflect the reality of how mediators actually think and act.  Many mediators agree with this critique, but these theoretical concepts still are widely used without much thought.
This earlier post describes how mediators inevitably develop their individual mediation models that they evolve over time.  It is based on Kahneman and Tversky’s work on conscious and unconscious thinking and Kressel’s work on mediators’ actual mental models.  Kressel argues that mediators’ actual mental
Continue Reading Real Mediators’ Real Mediation Models

For a long time, Donna Shestowsky has conducted empirical studies of litigants’ perceptions about dispute resolution processes.  CPR’s Alternatives to the High Cost of Litigation magazine just published an article summarizing her study about parties’ expectations about the process used to resolve their cases.  The article is Why Client Expectations of Legal Procedures Must Be Managed to Achieve Settlement Satisfaction, 40 Alternatives to the High Cost of Litigation 105 (July/August, 2022), which is based on a longer article published in Law and Human Behavior.
Donna surveyed litigants in courts in California, Oregon, and Utah soon after their cases were
Continue Reading Shestowsky’s Study Supports Value of Lawyers’ Early Education of Clients About Their Procedural Options